Andy Coulson denies he was 'incompetent' at running News of the World budget

Andy Coulson today denied that he was "incompetent" at running the News of the World budget while he was editor.

During cross examination at the Old Bailey hacking trial, he was asked who decided in February 2005 to halt a plan to cut payments to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was hacking phones for the paper.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said a News of the World staff member tried to stop Mulcaire and his firm, Nine Consultancy, getting any more money at all, but "somebody overruled him".

The decision was made the day after Coulson (pictured above: Reuters) held a budget meeting with managing editor Stuart Kuttner, the Old Bailey jury heard.

Coulson accepted that he had responsibility to oversee the budget, but said of the Mulcaire decision: "I have no memory of being involved at all."

It possible that his co-defendant, Kuttner, had had a conversation about it with the staff member who proposed the cut, he said.

Edis asked: "Were you incompetent?"

Coulson, 46, a former No 10 spin doctor, replied: "I don't think I was incompetent.

"Part of my job was to oversee the budget. If a significant part of my role as editor was viewed as the budget, one might imagine I would receive one single day of training, of being instructed on how the auditing processes work, but I did not.

"But that was not seen as my job. I was editor of the newspaper."

Edis asserted that only one person could decide if an employee was "value for money" and that was the editor.

But Coulson said: "It was not my job."

Coulson denies conspiring to hack phones and separate charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. All seven defendants deny the charges against them.

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